Last Friday, we recognized three individuals as “Distinguished Alumni” of Conestoga Valley. It is fitting that this event often falls close to National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 8 -May 12), since the induction ceremony is a great reminder of the impact our teachers and staff have on the lives of our students, both when they are in school and years after.
Though state lawmakers are looking at reforming Pennsylvania’s charter school law, some of the current proposals miss the mark, especially when it comes to tackling the problems surrounding cyber charter schools. While a bill currently making its way through the legislature is a good starting point, what is truly needed is legislation that levels the playing field when it comes to these online-only schools’ accountability and funding.
Conestoga Valley is currently in the process of working through a very tough budget for the next school year. Our Act 1 Index – or allowable percentage increase in property taxes set by the state – is 2.5%. Even with the allowable increase, CV is still facing a deficit that we are working hard to close. One of the ways CV can help offset this deficit is to not replace three positions at the middle school created by open positions or staff retiring at the end of this school year: geography, FCS and ISS. I invited Dr. Donovan Mann, our Director of Secondary Education, to explain a little more about how this process may work and how we plan to ensure students are receiving the education they need, even if these positions are not available.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the need to curb rising property taxes. Recently, the state Senate has discussed several proposals, including Senate Bill 406, which would require a two-thirds majority vote from a school board to approve the budget each year instead of a simple majority, and Senate Bill 76, which eliminates property taxes by increasing the state’s income and sales tax rates. Instead of focusing on how school districts raise revenue, I wanted to talk about a solution that could help address the expenses squeezing districts’ budgets: mandate relief.
For more than four decades, Conestoga Valley volunteers have made a difference in our schools. Our largest volunteer organization, Volunteers in Action (VIA), is a unique group of parent and community volunteers committed to supporting students, teachers, faculty and staff across the district. The group has a couple of events coming up in April that I wanted to highlight.
Thank you to the nearly 50 parents, staff and residents who attended the Community Forum on Monday night. I thought the discussions surrounding the 2017-2018 budget, the state legislature’s proposal for property tax reform and the county’s reassessment process were constructive and informative. As an epilogue, I want to summarize our presentations and discuss some of the concerns raised during the forum.
I have discussed property tax reform a few times now, including sharing the district’s concerns about how it will diminish local control and unfairly shift the tax burden from commercial entities to individuals. However, I think it is important to not only discuss our concerns with the proposal, but also to offer some suggestions that could assist with the problems that lawmakers say are driving the demand for reform. While we recognize that some of these ideas would require major changes in law, we believe that the legislature should explore all available options.
Last week, the Conestoga Valley School Board announced that they will be voting on the next superintendent, Dr. David Zuilkoski, at their March 13 meeting. I’ve invited “Dr. Z” to introduce himself a little to the CV community.
Hello CV! I am Dr. Dave Zuilkoski, but you can call me Dr. Z. I am humbled and excited about the opportunity to be your next superintendent! First and foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Huesken for his graciousness in offering me the chance to be a guest blogger on his site. While I will be spending the next few months getting to know everyone, I wanted to take the time to share a little bit about myself.
Now that springtime is just around the corner, the district budget generally takes center stage as a main focus during the school year. Rising pension contributions, healthcare increases, cyber school tuition and special education costs continue to make funding public education a major concern across the board.